Sunday, 3 October 2010

Intellect VS Emotions

-         goal is objectivity and accuracy and precision in judgment
-         constant learning (gain new knowledge)
-         use experience (knowledge and past events) to optimize result
-         long term perspective thinking, not only the immediate future
-         complex learning and pattern searching brain engine
-         complexity increases accuracy and decreases speed - reasoning is relatively slow process
-         sometimes those complexity and speed are costly - wasting valuable time over-analyzing and missing an opportunity
-         relatively new product of evolution, far from optimized yet – mistakes that find false patterns (conspiracy theories, prejudices, illusions, speculations, superstitions) or no patterns at all (noise)
-         useful for complicated decisions

-         mathematical heuristics (APPROXIMATIONS) that solve real life problems
-         encoded on genetic level, still influenced by learning new knowledge, but less that rationality
-         simpler chemical algorithms (look link again)
-         approximated solutions so relatively low accuracy of judgment
-         extremely fast, so emotions are perfect for simple circumstances
-         speed and simplicity make emotions useful – morality is a value that is incredibly more difficult to model with rationality (wrote a separate article on this) than with simple emotions, also reactions to immediate dangers need to be fast
-         relatively old product of evolution – optimized for problems that are already out of date - even lower accuracy of judgment. Example – we LOVE sweet, because benefit of sugar is tenfold the harm in environment with little of it, but now obesity is the leading killer in any modern country with abundant sugar. That low accuracy I am talking about causes bad decisions that actually kill people.
-         useful for simple decisions

Both are valuable and have uses so decision making is always a combination of the two. That combination is often in favor of a wrong approach, and that is harmful too.

  • People suck at probability estimation
  • People suck at value estimation (we compare to things that don’t matter)
  • We compare ourselves to others to determine how happy we are

  • Source Amnesia phenomenon
  • “But wait! There’s more!” advertizing tricks where a sum of small benefits is felt greater than the whole cost $5 + $5 +5 +$5 > $20
  • Anchoring phenomenon
  • People are risk averse - loss is twice more powerful than gain
  • People rationalize "If I spent 3 years playing WoW, this must be a good game"
  • People believe in what is more beneficial for them, in what they like most (god, reincarnation, immortality), rather that in what has the greatest chances of being true.
  • What we think generally differs from objective reality:

  • How we optimize gain:
- now is better that later
- more is better than less
Problem: these two rules often conflict in a way we are unable to solve effectively the “pain now, gain later” problem

Other references: